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Listing passage: awkward or elegant? (1 Viewer)

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Puellamagi

Senior Member
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?

I'm not sure. Taken out of context, it's really difficult to say. I think it may fall within the lines of "show, don't tell," where you are listing qualities that have no actions, or so I assume. Your readers cannot determine for themselves, so they are being told of each sisters' gifts and that can sometimes fall flat. Are there places where the sisters demonstrate these characteristics? And to be honest, I think "whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void," is a bit much; confusing because there's nothing to support the description. I don't know what it means.

Just my thoughts. :)
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?
It depends on what you're trying to do. If this sort of list is something you intend to do more than once, each time referencing the last, it could be very interesting. And of course having the list doesn't preclude you from giving a more detailed demonstration of the three later. If this is a one-off, a list with no further explanation, then yeah, it's probably not so good.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Knowing of your story, An Exposition Scene, from the fiction workshop, I think something like this would be useful. But I would make a few suggestions:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. Their bodies lay in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. Shelle, had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, her craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille had sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, her art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe had simply lived, her love for the sisters was limitless".
 
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EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless

You change directions with Tiffe -- lofty math, lofty art, simply living. The words do that change in direction nicely. But you change directions again -- simply living, but still accomplishing something amazing. That might work better with a yet:

Tiffe who simply lived, yet whose love for the sisters was limitless

I am at a lost how someone could simply live; it seems so difficult. Could you have meant simply loved? Or lived simply?
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I am at a lost how someone could simply live; it seems so difficult. Could you have meant simply loved? Or lived simply?

To me, I took it as she just lived her life without having a driven purpose like each of her sisters did. The word "simply", meaning merely or just.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?

I'd say it helps, and it works here. It's a repetition device essentially. Now, if every few sentences you had something similar it would wear thin, but just one? It's fine:)

On a side note, I would say maybe trim a few adjectives, and pick one descriptor for a thing and stick with it rather than yield to the temptation to use absolutely everything.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?

The structure is fine. It's just ridiculously purple, and I say that as something of a grape myself. Additionally, your grasp of punctuation and grammar needs to be better if you're going to write this elaborately.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?

I don't think that's too much, no. If it was the first paragraph, maybe it would be a problem, but buried somewhere else, deeper in the piece, I reckon it's fine.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
The structure is fine. It's just ridiculously purple, and I say that as something of a grape myself. Additionally, your grasp of punctuation and grammar needs to be better if you're going to write this elaborately.

I think that's a pretty discouraging comment to the OP.

I thought the text was fine.
 
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luckyscars

WF Veterans
I think that's a pretty discouraging comment to the OP.

I thought the text was fine.

You're very much entitled to think it's fine, but ask yourself if the average -- or even above average - person would derive clear meaning from it and then explain to me what 'fine' means, in the context of somebody asking if their work is 'awkward' or 'elegant'?

The OP asked about sentence structure and I said I think their structure is okay. As others also mentioned, there are issues with the writing itself. The OP is a perfectly capable writer and deserves to be treated like one -- which means honest feedback.
 
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Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I always wondered when we have these listing scenes, do they actually work? For example, lets take my own. As a pretext we know that Alle's sisters are dead, and so she is sad. And then we have such a paragraph:

"To find tranquility in her restless heart, Alle decided to pay the last respects to her fallen sisters. They still waited in the Core’s chamber, silently begging for the farewell. All lay here: Shelle who had had studied the perfection of numbers and saw elegance within the equations, whose craft unfolded synthetic time and space above the boundless void; Mille who sought for the beauty of the lost heavens, whose art shaped the Lonely Tower like an arrow towards the sky; Tiffe who simply lived, whose love for the sisters was limitless".

The monotonous syntax structure in listing helps or makes or makes it worse?

If that text were in a story that has already engaged me, I would probably let it go and continue reading, but if it were very early on in the story, prior to hooking me, I might conclude that the writing style could be awkward to follow, and give up on it.
 
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